The Phillies formally introduced Bryce Harper in a press conference held at Spectrum Field on Saturday. Managing partner John Middleton, general manager Matt Klentak, and agent Scott Boras were all in attendance as the slugger donned his team cap and jersey for the first time.
Following a few opening statements from Klentak, Harper spoke to his excitement over the signing and illuminated a few of the reasons that helped push him toward Philadelphia:
It’s good to feel wanted, it’s good to feel wanted by the Phillies organization, by the fanbase, by the city as well. I love my family very much and Philly is going to be part of that family for a very long time. […] It felt like a home, it felt like somewhere I could be for a long time, and that was important to me. I’m going to grow my family in this city, and that’s the biggest thing for me. I wanted to be somewhere for a long period of time. I wanted to finish my career somewhere and they made that commitment to me. I can’t wait to be able to be part of the Phillies for a long time.
During the Q&A that followed, Klentak declined to reveal exactly how negotiations had unfolded in the days leading up to Harper’s 13-year, $330 million agreement with the team. Boras, meanwhile, cited the Phillies’ “strong, strong passion for winning and continued winning” and reiterated that the front office had made a concerted effort to show Harper that they could provide the career longevity, family-focused environment, and tight-knit community he was looking for.
The 26-year-old outfielder will wear no. 3 in Philadelphia instead of the no. 34 he donned in Washington; a change, some said Friday, that was likely compelled by the Phillies’ rumored plans to retire Hall of Famer Roy Halladay’s number this season. Harper all but confirmed the report on Saturday:
“Of course I wore 34 [in Washington], but I thought Roy Halladay should be the last one to wear it,” he said. He also explained that he declined to ask teammate Maikel Franco for no. 7 (the chosen number of his favorite player, Mickey Mantle), and revealed that no. 3 had some significance for him as both his father and brother wore the number in high school.
Harper concluded the press conference by vowing, in so many words, to stick by the club through the down years as well as the winning ones. While he shied away from any big proclamations about World Series championships yet to come (saying only that he’d love to bring a title to the organization), he emphasized that his primary goal was to build a legacy in Philadelphia — a commitment the Phillies would no doubt be overjoyed to see him follow through.